「忘れないでいてくれますか？」 (Wasurenai de Itekuremasu ka?)
“Will You Remember Me?”
Well, if last episode was the right hook, guess we can consider this one the gut punch. Although not too surprising of a reveal for 86 this week, the understanding of what position the 86ers (especially Spearhead) occupy helps to both reinforce what this story is about and just where things are going. And things are very quickly about to head south.
While I suspected San Magnolia intended on never letting its 86ers go free at the end of their service terms, it’s still quite an eye opener just how blatant the strategy is. From a purely societal perspective such liquidation makes sense: 86ers are treated as literal cannon fodder used and abused to help keep the Alba safe and secure, so they will naturally harbour hatred of their enslavers. You need to control for that consequence, so thus create a churn where surviving 86ers are “promoted” to increasingly dangerous combat theaters to maximize casualty rates. Add in a deliberate throttling of supplies and reinforcements (since smaller numbers are more likely to wind up as casualties over time) and no shocker that 86ers are eliminated at a decent pace. Insidious? Yes, but quite effective for the intended goal.
The natural question, however, is why the 86ers don’t fight back, and the answer is fairly simple: mindset. The promise of service terms does enough to keep initial recruits involved and hopeful, while those who survive are left exhausted through constant struggle and largely resigned to their fate. I’m not fully convinced by Spearhead choosing to perish without first exacting revenge against the Alba (since spitefulness is a major motivator in the face of certain death), but I can appreciate the ability of them to know not every Alba is the same and hope their actions somewhat help keep them safe. It’s a good wakeup call for Lena though, since she should now realize just how little her care and concern are felt among her superiors and how unlikely she is to remotely change the situation. She has spent far too long naively (and arrogantly) believing she could have an impact, and now must come face to face with the limitations of her station.
And that leads into probably the biggest (unspoken) reveal of the episode in San Magnolia having no damn clue what the Legion is up to. I did suspect a few of Lena’s commanders might’ve had an understanding, but if the leadership truly had any inkling of the Legion’s subsuming of human minds and ability to persevere beyond their supposed end date, they wouldn’t have a policy of deliberately throwing away their primary forces. San Magnolia honestly believes Legion will disappear shortly, that they can eliminate their 86 issue while waiting for it to happen, and that peace and prosperity will be had once both are said and done. You can easily predict that’s not going to happen, especially once one notices the weapons and tactics Legion is starting to bring forth.
Simply put, there’s a tempest brewing on the horizon, and neither Alba nor 86er are remotely ready to survive its impact.